Food Aid Needed For Eight Million People In Ethiopia
by Ghion Hagos
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - More than eight million people in Ethiopia will
need food aid this year due to the effects of natural disasters over the past 18
Announcing this in Addis Ababa Friday, the head of the government's relief aid
agency appealed to international donors to provide 821,000 metric tonnes of food
grains to feed them.
The commissioner of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission,
Simon Mechale, made the appeal during a briefing with ambassadors of donor
countries and representatives of international organisations from donor countries
as well as international organisations and NGOs.
State radio quoted Simon as saying that a large number of people in need of food
aid this year was due to natural disasters that had affected the country over the
past 18 moths.
He said there had been repeated failure of the so-called "belg" or small rains from
February to mid-April in 1999 in many parts of the country. On the other hand,
the June- September normal rains were scanty and insufficient in some other
parts, including the main grain growing areas.
The government's figures were corroborated by FAO and WFP representatives at
ajoint conference on Friday afternoon. FAO representative Alex V. Obeng and
Sime Debella, who headed the team that made the assessment of crops in
Ethiopia last September, said the country's grain harvest was estimated at 10.72
million tonnes in 1999. This was about 6 percent below that of 1998 but 22
percent higher than the poor year of 1997.
The 1999 harvest was still 9 percent below the record harvest in 1996.
WFP country representative and director, Judith Lewis, said an estimated 7.8
million people affected by natural disaster in Ethiopia require 764,000 metric
tonnes of food grain in 2000.
The Ethiopian government told the diplomats that some 272,000 metric tonnes of
food aid was required to feed some 350,000 people internally displaced as a result
of the border conflict with Eritrea.
Lewis said that Ethiopia's current food deficit stands at 651,000 metric tonnes,
which was rather vast.